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July 24, 2019

Town of Warrenton email server experiences “failure”

The Town of Warrenton staff has lost its ability to communicate via email.

Town Manager Brandie Schaeffer said late Wednesday morning that the problem resulted from “an email server failure. We are working to fully resolve the issue. We request patience as we work to get everything fully operational.”

Anyone attempting to contact a town department or staff member can call 540-347-1101, Ms. Schaeffer said.

The town council and staff in recent months have discussed Warrenton’s need to update information technology — some of it years out of date. Estimates run as high as $1.5 million for the town to address the situation, which includes a variety of hardware and software.
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TheWeez · August 12, 2019 at 4:25 pm
To think that a "town government" only has one email server is really odd to me. I've been working in IT for around 25 years and having a single point of failure for something as important as email is a giant no no. Not sure why some are making this into a political pissing match as this story has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with a sub-par IT department.
DonkeyFarmer · July 30, 2019 at 12:39 pm
Silli suffers from a severe case of Trump Derangement Syndrome.
Jim Griffin · July 30, 2019 at 9:59 am
Silii: This is silly. Politics aren't the issue, though the sting may remain for some. My comment is one with which HRC herself has said clearly she agrees: It was a mistake for many reasons, none of which have anything to do with policies or politics, everything to do with getting hacked (email servers *must* be accessible via the net to all) and operationally exceeding the grasp of all but the best-equipped 24/7/365 operations.

Not to mention the trivial expense of outsourcing these operations.

I write not to criminal charges but to sensibility and good IT practice. As a journalist, my concern from the start was the departure from historic office practice of maintaining all communications for FOIA access and history. As a technologist and entrepreneur, I know the folly of email hubris, long ago having paid my last dollar to devote staff, hardware and software to email. What was once cool is now foolish.

No Trumpster here. Simply observing facts, and the likelihood that the only person supporting the decision to operate an email server for Warrenton is the person paid to maintain it.

Don't replace it. Outsource. Minimal expense, maximum efficacy. I like Carter Nevill but not a Warrenton resident, professional advice offered as a courtesy.
Silii · July 30, 2019 at 7:47 am
The Town of Warrenton lives in the past and it's no wonder their server crashed and burned. Leave Hillary Clinton out of this. Why must you people live in the past instead of acknowledging the extensive criminal breach of security in the current White House? The familiy members Trump has appointed have been caught using their personal phones for public, White House business. They are not backing up all communications. Trump himself uses a non-secure phone. what do they do then? They flip the bird at all Americans because they are above all laws and have no moral or ethical compasses. All of this is criminal and far worse than Hillary's server and may I remind you that after extensive investigation, no charges were brought.
FalconDad · July 26, 2019 at 9:23 am
Well said Jim Griffin. Yes, a lot, I mean A LOT of small businesses and large corporations rely now on Gmail's business product, now called G Suite, mine included. It is fabulous, fast and up 99.999% of the time. It inherently blocks 99% of SPAM and if it ever were to go down, believe me, the world would have them have it back up quickly.

This is a big embarrassment for the town since they reported it may be down for the next 4 days which DOES NOT mean this is a simple 'outage' or hardware failure. This must be something bigger. Until they get their original servers repaired or replaced, any IT guy can go down over to Staples and buy an in-stock PC and restore their latest backup to get their email backup and working in hours, not days. If they did have a hardware failure and lost their data, they must not have a reliable backup strategy. They should be running on a RAID system (not a backup BTW) and backing up nightly to an online service as well as backing up to a local disks which can be stored in an off-site firesafe.

Wow, reminds me of Baltimore.
Jim Griffin · July 25, 2019 at 11:44 am
It's not as big a mistake for Warrenton to run its own mail server as it was for Hillary Clinton, but for some of the same reasons it's ill-advised, in part because email servers inherently interface with the internet as at least a limited exception to any firewall. The email server must interact with the world and will get hacked.

Highly recommend outsourcing. Even the most sophisticated functions (e.g., Microsoft Exchange) are available for just a few dollars per month per user, and basic email is of course "free" from many sources.

Far better to obviate the hardware, software and human costs with outsourcing. Email is best left to the very biggest players, unless the stakes are very low, and municipal government is not so trivial.

Shortcut IT guide: Ask local college/universities what they do. NVCC, for example, relies on outsourced email (think Google, Microsoft), as does the Virginia state higher education system.

Most rely on free gmail anyway, and they will brand your domain for a reasonable fee, as will other big players like Microsoft.
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